Since the internet was shut down in Egypt earlier this week I have been thinking about the internet kill switch. Does it exist? What would be the effect on home and business of an extended outage? Others have thought about it too from a different perspective.
Perhaps prophetic thinking or perhaps not but last night our cable connection went down. It has now been down about 14 hours and with it all connectivity to the outside world including our home phone.
It didn’t occur to me that our phone would go down for an extended time when I switched over from Qwest to a bundled internet service from Comcast that included VOIP. Phones never go down in emergencies even when the power goes out. And besides, who needs a home phone anymore?
Well, it turns out we do.
We are in the midst of a two-day emergency school shutdown because of extreme low temperatures. The school district notifies you by home phone…as would any other emergency agency for a reverse 911 call. Cell phones are back up and not part of the automated call.
I called Comcast our cable provider and as usual they can tell you there is a problem in your area, but won’t tell you what it is or give you a time it may come back up. Of course that is a lie because they know exactly what is wrong and where and how many techs they’ve sent to fix the problem and how long it will take. But they don’t want to get into it with the customers so they put some poor schlep on the end of the line to take the heat. And he really doesn’t know.
But 12 hours? Really? And you can’t tell me what the deal is? Of course you can. The tip off was when in the first few sentences the customer service rep offered to compensate me for any loss. Upon hearing that my first thought was uh oh, this is big. My second thought was how much of my $200 per month goes to training the rep in saying “I don’t know” because they sure do it well?
Well I suppose I could watch local news channels that list the school closings but I can’t receive any channels. I’ll look it up on the internet. No you won’t. My iPad? Nope, it’s only wi-fi. Ah, my iPhone. Bingo. My lifeline. Thank you ATT.
I’m being facetious here, but this little nuisance of losing cable for over the last 14 hours has caused me to re-evaluate my personal network for communication. It’s not just about having toys anymore. It’s about being connected and being connected at all times.
Beyond that, cable providers also need to understand that there comes with it a higher standard for customer service when you sell customers their entire communications network. This is not just about playing COD with friends anymore. It’s about providing basic communications in a new era and information when things go wrong. “I don’t know” doesn’t cut it anymore.
It has been suggested by some that the smartphone will become our link to the world for everything. I have been thinking about that too, and interestingly enough, it has been for me over the last 14 hours.